While in graduate school, the major focus of my working thesis was children’s electronic books. At the time, there was a new surge in school libraries, where children’s books were transferred into interactive “reads” on any available computer screen. I would be lying if stating this an easy task. Especially since many articles (or studies) had not been written yet, with people still reticent about reading books/stories on computer screens.
Many years later, attitudes have changed. There is the Sony Reader, the Kindle, and more. In addition to millions of blogs, we have several large social networking sites, with even more content presented for readers via computer. As for my long lost project, children not only use these “electronic” books at public libraries, they also own their own copies at home–with aptitudes to browse the internet, installing computer programs and more. Finally, there is the wonderful mecca I call the iPhone, don’t even get me started on my thoughts and excitement about it.
Yet, there is the wonderful thing we call a printed book. It presents a physical, emotional, and sensual experience, as reading a book is an extremely sensory experience, and much more apt to stay in one’s memories.
There’s something wonderful about reading a good book, while cozied in one’s favorite reading chair (mine is my Granny’s old sitting room chair). There’s the smell of the book, as well as the feel of the pages and stimulation of one’s imagination. Finally, there are the surrounding smells and sounds, as usually there’s a warm cup of dark coffee on the side table, my little cat purring in my lap, and my birds chirping on the other side of the room. No electronic book of ANY type can replace that kind of experience.
I have to say I have no sensory and cozy memories of reading any electronic material and/or books. If anything, reading an electronic book means that my coffee is NOT next to the computer/reader, and that my cat is probably in the reading chair, while I’m at my desk. Plus, there are the other distractions, facebook, twitter, my phone ringing off the hook, email, etc.
What this comes down to is accepting that both printed and electronic books will have to live simultaneously in our lives. One will have a fairly calming effect (printed books), while the other (the e-book) will allow readers ease of travel (with their reading materials) and access to other online/electronic gadgets & needs.
In my heart of hearts, I do not want to see electronic publishing eliminate the beauty of the printed book. If we lose the appreciation and love of the printed book, this art of print publishing (which even goes back a few thousand years) could become history. That’s something I never want to see. Hence, why I will always purchase my books in printed editions, and encourage others to do the same.
What are your thoughts? I’d love see what others feel.